Why Crunches Don't Guarantee a Six-Pack
Picture this: You're on a mat at the gym, crunch, crunch, crunching away. You don't mind the burn, because you're laser-focused on one thing: beach-perfect-superhero-body-Ryan-Reynolds-ripped abs. After your seventh set, you add some planks for good measure. Because that six-pack is right around the corner. You first just have to melt the fat off your stomach with one more set of sit ups...
I'll grant that doing a lot of ab workouts will give anyone really strong abs, which is great. But we should remember a few things:
1. Don't use Photoshopped images of people as references for your goals unless you plan to physically Photoshop yourself. They can be useful for some motivation or getting ideas, but put simply, those images are usually unrealistic (again, unless you have self-Photoshop powers).
2. Melting fat is gross. It just sounds gross, so I don't think about that when I'm working out.
3. You can't target areas of your body to burn fat from by exercising them.
Points 1 and 2 are important, but I'm going to focus on 3 today. I thought by now Oprah or someone had told everyone that the idea of reducing fat in a specific area is a myth, but I still get people asking me about it, so I figured I'd settle this once and for all. The idea of targeting a certain fat zone through exercise is known commonly as "spot reduction," and since it's not real, you don't need to know it anymore. So yeah. That's not a thing.
Fat loss happens globally, meaning it is lost from all parts of your body, rather than from one spot at a time. It also happens a little differently for everyone too, so as you're dropping weight, you may see one part of your body thinning out faster than another. That's usually nothing to worry about, that just means you should keep doing what you're doing!
But what should you be doing? Certainly not focusing too much on one part of your body, as that can lead to muscular imbalances or skeletal deviations, meaning you could end up with the posture of a goblin (probably one with really nice abs).
What would work more effectively is a combination of cardiovascular training and a weight training regimen that builds muscle throughout your ENTIRE body. Keep in mind, though, all that exercise will be for naught if you leave out the crucial piece of the puzzle: the caloric deficit.
What is that?
It just refers to the difference between how many calories you put into your body vs. how many calories you're using. You can increase the difference by either:
1. Consuming fewer calories, like not eating chips while watching Oprah, or
2. Increasing your activity level, as in working out instead of watching Oprah.
The most important thing to do for yourself also is give yourself time. Defined abs, big arms, and toned legs don't happen overnight, so come up with a solid game plan and stick with it until you get there.
And I think you'll get there :)
(P.S. the guys in the picture are friends of mine)